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Wiregrass Electric Cooperative continues restoration efforts, with some outages expected to last days

October 13, 2018

HARTFORD, Alabama — Wiregrass Electric Cooperative has begun its third full day of restoration since Hurricane Michael caused 18,000 outages. That number has now been reduced to 8,783. 

Over 160 line workers began before dawn on Saturday morning cutting trees, clearing roads and rebuilding the cooperative’s destroyed distribution network. These workers will soon be joined by additional linemen and right-of-way crews. 

“We’re asking for more assistance to help deal with the devastation caused by this storm,” said Brad Kimbro, WEC Chief Operating Officer. “By Sunday night we will have roughly 225 linemen working to restore power to our members. That doesn’t include the dispatchers and all the different WEC employees that have been working diligently since this storm hit. It’s truly a team effort!”

WEC continues to encounter incredible destruction as it attempts to restore power. “A lot of our poles are on the ground, and a lot of those broken poles are covered by large, lifetime trees,” said Kimbro. “We’re spending a lot of time cutting through trees to be able to get to a single pole, then cutting more trees to start the repair. It’s extremely time consuming.”

Members served from the cooperative’s Cottonwood, Ashford and Columbia substations are advised to plan for further days without power. “There is tremendous damage in these areas, and restoration is going to be measured in days, not hours,” said Kimbro. “We understand this is difficult. We apologize to our members and we want them to know we are working diligently to clear the trees and restore power as safely and quickly as possible.”

Kimbro said the WEC team is thankful for the response from its members. “We appreciate all the love and support that has been shown to us through social media, phone calls and visits,” he said. “We are striving to answer every comment and question on Facebook, but there is an extreme volume. We appreciate your patience as we try to get to everyone. We highly encourage all our members to continue to visit our Facebook page for our latest updates.”

Wiregrass Electric wants to remind its members of the following information:

  • Anyone with a medical condition that requires electricity should please relocate as soon as possible to a place with electric service. Due to the widespread nature of this natural disaster, the cooperative is not able to prioritize a single home in a neighborhood to restore electric service. “If you feel you are in medical need, we ask that you seek help immediately,” said Kimbro.
  • Members can report outages by calling 888-469-6882 or by downloading the Wiregrass Electric mobile app. The WEC outage map is currently not accurate due to the effects of the storm. Members can receive updates by liking WEC’s Facebook page and by visiting wiregrass.coop/hurricane.
  • WEC’s administration line will also be manned throughout the weekend from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members can reach that line by calling 800-239-4602. This number should be used for non-outage related questions.
  • Restoring power is a complex process, and while it may seem strange that homes on one side of a road could have power while others nearby don’t, there can be several reasons. If a small section of homes is without power, it does not mean they have been forgotten or an error has occurred. Instead, it is likely there is damage somewhere further away on lines that feed power to those homes. The cooperative will continue working until power is restored to every single member.
  • WEC strongly encourages members to stay far away from all downed power lines. Always assume a power line is energized and treat it with extreme caution. Approaching downed lines is never safe, even if your area is without power. 
  • WEC wants to thank the cooperatives who have sent crews to help: Sand Mountain, Cherokee, Marshall-DeKalb, Baldwin, Central Alabama, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, Southern Pine and Tombigbee electric cooperatives.